318 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
“Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings.” Proverbs 22:29 (NIV)
If ever there was a man who exemplifies this Proverb, it is Benjamin Franklin, who only attended school for two years of his life. Yet Franklin forever changed both science and politics. Starting as a printer who studied the writings that his shop printed, this extraordinary genius used his creativity for the good of mankind beginning in his own home, then his city, and then finally from America to the world.
Franklin’s contributions to Philadelphia include the first free library, the first fire company, the American Philosophical Society, the University of Pennsylvania, the post office, as well as the use of paper money and the bestseller Poor Richard’s Almanac. His contributions to science include the first swimming flippers, bifocals, the Franklin stove, and of course the lightning rod. His famous experiments with the kite and the attached key demonstrated that electricity is the same, whether in a lightning bolt or in a wire. Franklin’s contributions to government include the signing of the Declaration of Independence, leadership in the Constitutional Convention, and service in the congress of Pennsylvania and as America’s ambassador to France during the Revolutionary War.
Franklin even tinkered with inventions for the enjoyment of his family. He developed a rocking chair that enabled his wife to churn butter as she rocked. He also created the glass armonica, a special musical instrument made of rotating plates, for his daughter’s musical pleasure.
The financial legacy that Franklin left for Philadelphia has grown substantially through the centuries and continues to provide resources for his city. When you look from Franklin court in the direction of Christ Church and see its high steeple, remember that Franklin helped to raise money for the purchase of its bells by proposing, printing and selling tickets in one of America’s first lotteries.
Further fulfilling the spirit of Galatians 6:10 which says “do good to all men” (KJV), Franklin helped to create Pennsylvania Hospital that has continued to this day to do good to those who have physical need. Franklin writes in his autobiography of his early love of reading that included John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress and other Christian books which impacted his life: “There was also a book of De Foe’s, called an Essay on Projects, and another of Dr. Mather’s, called Essays to do Good, which perhaps gave me a turn of thinking that had an influence on some of the principal future events of my life.”
Franklin’s legacy is celebrated not just here but also at the Franklin institute (222 North 20th Street). A common man who stood before kings, indeed!